Concrete can be useful, but occasionally once it dries, you could notice that the surface is lumpy, uneven, or rough. If you are laying a patio or other slab as part of your home improvement, then you won’t want this rough top layer. However, smoothing to a shiny finish may appear impossible, and laying more could be your only option.
However, things don’t need to be so drastic or time-consuming. In our guide, there are several ways you can enhance the surface of your new patio. With a simple handheld angle grinder, and a few other tips and tricks, you can have the best concrete finish possible.
By the end, you’ll know how you can fix cracks and pitted concrete to make the area around your house something to be proud of.
Basics of How To Get Concrete Smooth
Concrete is durable, weather-resistant patio surface, yet can develop cracks or become rough. Smoothing rough concrete is a great DIY project. Here you can see an overview of picking the right tools and following the proper process for smoothing rough concrete. (Read Can You Drill Into Spackle)
1. Clean the Surface
Every concrete resurfacing project starts with a power wash. First, pressure-wash your patio with gas, and keep the pressure washer water stream 6 to 8 inches from your patio surface. When you power wash, treat the concrete to eliminate any mildew, mold, or algae.
2. Fix Cracks
Cracks can be filled now you have wet concrete.
- Mix 7 parts resurfacer with 1 part water in a 5-gallon bucket.
- Fill any cracks and divots with the resurfaced, then smooth with a trowel.
- Check the wet layer of concrete has no air pockets and sinks as the concrete dries.
- Let the compound dry and harden for 5 hours.
- Once the cracks are repaired and dry enough to stand on without denting, refinish the entire concrete surface.
- Peel-and-stick weatherstripping protects patio joints. Mix half a bag of resurfacer with 5 1/2 glasses of water. The resurfacer is malleable for 20 minutes.
- Spread resurfacer 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick in sections.
- Remove the weatherstripping after 20 minutes.
- Each section will dry in 6 hours, and once the resurfacer has dried, you can seal your patio with a penetrating sealer.
Step-By-Step: How to Smooth My Rough Concrete Patio
In a best-case scenario, consider finishing concrete before it dries, as this solves many further issues.
1. Gather Materials
The first thing that you will need to do here is to gather your materials, which include an epoxy resin duct tape, a floor grinder, a mop, plastic sheeting, concrete sealer, protective gear such as a face mask, goggles, earplugs, and rubber gloves, as well as a shop vac.
First, gather your materials, which include:
- Epoxy resin
- Duct tape
- Floor Concrete grinder/ Diamond Grinder (can use an angle grinder or orbital sander in small areas).
- Plastic sheeting
- Concrete sealer
- Protective gear: face mask, goggles, earplugs, and rubber gloves.
2. Area Preparation
Remove all patio furniture. Unremovable items should be covered with plastic to avoid damage and dust.
Mop the concrete floor to eliminate dust and debris. Then, allow the floor to dry and split it into smaller zones so you may focus on smaller portions at a time.
Start with 30- or 60-grit sandpaper. Next, start sanding a concrete patio corner with a floor grinder. Cover half of the previous pass with each vertical pass down the patio. Carefully remove any lumps. (Learn How Much Weight Can I Hang From A Ceiling Joist)
4. Fill Cracks
Fill major cracks or divots in the concrete patio with a new layer of epoxy resin. Smooth the resin, and let it cure before the next step.
5. Sand Again
After the epoxy resin cures, sand it. Start at the far corner where you ended and work your way back. Continue until you’ve passed over the exact location four times, with the second set of two passes being horizontal.
6. Apply Your Concrete Sealer
Now finish the freshly sanded surface with concrete sealer. Follow the product’s package and give the concrete sealer enough time to dry.
7. Even More Sanding
Repeat, yet change the grinder’s sandpaper to 80 or 120 grit. Make vertical passes covering half of the last pass each time.
Smooth bumps, and fill divots with epoxy. Let the epoxy dry and continue sanding in the far corner to work your way back to the starting point, followed by two passes with the grinder.
8. Clean and Sand Your Cement Floor
Clean using a mop and let it dry. Now you need to switch to progressively finer grit sandpapers. Do this until you reach around 1,500 grit or finer.
Keep cleaning and mopping the floor and changing to finer sandpaper, and then you’ll arrive at the desired smoothness for your concrete patio.
Can You Smooth Concrete After It Dries?
Smoothing concrete after it hardens often needs adding a fresh layer like in the previous steps.
This keeps the surface smooth and even when the concrete is dry. This is the easiest way to level rough or uneven concrete.
Occasionally, you can sand or use a concrete grinder to smooth dry concrete. Smoothing the surface requires epoxy or concrete polish.
What Is the Best Way to Make Concrete Smooth and Shiny?
Knowing the possible methods can help you choose the best one for your concrete. If soap and water don’t remove all the flaws that dull the concrete, use a pressure washer to make it shiny and smooth.
Dirt, dust, sap, leaves, and other elements can dull outdoor cement over time, but a pressure washer will remove them.
These methods won’t make concrete shiny if it wasn’t already.
If so, try a concrete polisher. Follow product instructions. Usually, they may be applied quickly with a cloth or mop and work best when covering a small area of concrete at a time.
Use dry grinding or wet rubbing to finish and polish concrete, but it may also work on older, dried concrete. (Read Are Carports Worth It)
When to Use a Concrete Grinder
A concrete grinder is sometimes the only way to level rough or completely dry cement or concrete.
If you lack vertical space for another layer of concrete, a grinder can help.
Using a concrete grinder, remove enough of the floor to have a smooth concrete surface without adding thickness.
A concrete grinder can also carry out the finishing process to polish the floor and make it smooth and shiny by using superfine sandpaper equivalent grinders.
Sandpaper is sufficient for rough, undamaged concrete, but a grinder is needed for greater flaws, dips, flakes, or unevenness. It can also be used to reveal aggregate or resurface.
Alternative Way How To Smooth Rough Concrete Slab
Rough concrete surfaces are a pain until smooth.
Rough concrete floor surfaces make work difficult, and because of this, many folks desire epoxy flooring to get a smooth finish. Epoxy coatings level a surface and make it shiny.
Poor pouring results in a rough surface; luckily, smoothing rough concrete isn’t too hard; just don’t forget to wear protective gear.
What Materials You Need:
- Broom and bucket
- Hammer and Chisel
- Mop, Cleanser, and Brush
- Wire Brush, Putty knife, and Leveling bar
- Grinding machine
- Epoxy gel and Epoxy resin
- Power drill
- Self-leveling compound
1. Sweep the Floor:
When smoothing rough concrete, sweep dust and debris first. To remove dust, use a push broom. Then, use a pH-neutral cleaner with warm water.
Apply the cleaner, then rinse with water. Make sure the floor is clean. Dry the floor after sweeping. Start working when the concrete slab is dry.
2. Repair Damaged Concrete Slab:
The concrete slab will have cracks and spalls. Before the smoothing process, fix cement shards, flakes, or cracks using your hammer and chisel.
Clean up broken fragments, and wire-brush damaged areas to remove debris and fragments.
3. Use Epoxy Gel on Damaged Areas:
After removing debris, brush areas are to be repaired with epoxy gel. The epoxy gel is ideal for concrete repair patches. This is because it forms a strong bond between patching materials and concrete.
4. Fill Cracks With Epoxy Resin:
As mentioned earlier, your concrete slab may have cracks or flakes.
Now, fill the cracks with epoxy resin, which helps level the concrete slab surface. It’s tough to use regular tools, hence the putty knife.
Using your putty knife, fill the holes and cracks with epoxy resin. After applying, level the surface with the knife. Let all the patches dry for around 24 hours.
5. Use Leveling Bar:
A leveling bar helps create a flat floor. Leveling with a bar is easy. First, drag the flat bar across the concrete slab. While dragging, you’ll notice high spots and dips in the concrete. Mark these areas with your chalk.
6. Grind High Areas With the Concrete Grinder:
Chalk-marked high spots must be lowered and leveled. Next, concrete surface grinding is needed. Finally, a grinder smooths higher surfaces.
Make the grinder in small circles to gradually flatten the floor. Continue grinding until all areas are even. Switch off the grinder when the sections are level with the rest of the concrete.
7. Grind The Entire Concrete Surface:
To get the same texture, you must now grind the entire concrete slab surface once more in this stage. Here, grinding should be done very lightly.
Just softly go over the entire surface with the grinder. Stop grinding when you notice that the entire floor has a similar texture.
Dust and residue will undoubtedly be created during grinding. Removing all the debris once more using a push broom. (Learn How Many Coats Of Zinsser 123 Primer)
8. Mix Water and Self-leveling Compound:
This is still another essential step in smoothing out a rough concrete floor. But, again, it’s crucial to mix the ingredients correctly.
Water and self-leveling compound should be combined in a bucket.
Make sure the mixture has the same consistency as oatmeal. Otherwise, it won’t work correctly on the concrete slab’s surface.
9. Apply Leveling Compound To Your Floor:
It’s time to pour the mixture at this point. But first, fill the specified dips with the compound mixture by pouring them on top.
Pour the compound in a layer over the floor after filling the dips. Make a compound layer about half an inch thick from the floor’s surface.
Use a squeegee to spread the compound evenly. After finishing, let the fully smooth cement layer dry for about four hours.
You will receive a brand-new, smooth concrete slab in 4 hours.
Give the floor a break from regular and frequent use for two days. The floor will be completely smooth and ready for regular use in two days.